My purpose for going to the NFDA convention was to take classes. I teach continuing education for funeral directors in Virginia. I pride myself on being up-to-date and informed in my course offerings. This convention is how I stay up-to-date.
I took several very good classes. I have yet to take a bad one at NFDA. My flight came in too late for me to attend the Thomas Lynch class, but I bought the recording. I'm greatly looking forward to istening to it. You can see Thomas Lynch on Frontline on October 30 at 9PM, PBS. He ROCKS!!!
I was glad to hear what Justin Zabor had to say about cremation. Justin is part of a family owned funeral home in Ohio. He speaks at conventions on the "F words of funeral service" among other things. Justin and his family are about innovation. He knew his audience would not be 100% behind him on this so he talked about innovation in terms of value.
Essentially he said that the modern funeral consumer has different values than they used to have. They would rather take a trip or throw a party than spend 20 grand on a funeral. The role of funeral service is to offer services that people value now, not the model that is 50 years old. Simple, right?
No, not really. That means embracing cremation and offering other services that more resemble event planning. That means losing the profit in traditional areas and becoming more technologically savvy. And it means making new allies with, for instance, progressive ministers with new ideas about services, ritual, and meaning making. (Justin didn't mention that one, but he doesn't know me yet. He will mention it next time.)
I thought Justin did a great job in saying what needs to be said. He was very gentle and positive in his "Change. Or your butts are history." message. Oh, and I forgot to mention. Justin is on my Men of Mortuaries calendar. And so is his brother. Here Justin is with some of his fellow models. Sorry to the nice man on the right for getting him with his eyes closed.